Today's guest post is from Trisha, photographer and owner over at Anchor & Flourish! You’re likely hearing the words styled images and brand photography everywhere these days and you may be wondering.... what exactly is this and why in the world do I need it anyway?
What is it?
Brand photography and styled images are quite similar – they are both images taken after items were ‘styled’ (sometimes crazy-meticulously) together. Brand photography is a professional photography session that is designed to create a series of custom ‘styled images’ for your website and social media that’s purpose is to create a cohesive visual that represents your brand.
Since brand photography has been my focus for a few years, I thought I would share my process in hopes that it might help you when planning to create images on your own. When you’re ready to invest in professional images, it will also help you with questions you may want to ask when interviewing a professional!
- The interview: You and I both know, our best work comes from working with ideal clients, so my first step is to start with an interview to be sure that we are a great fit! The way I see it is that we cannot meet every client before they stumble upon us, which means even though you have the most amazing personality that makes people fall in love with you, they are only going to spend a few seconds on your website before they make a lot of assumptions. The goal is to create images that convey a million little details and emotions within the space of a few seconds.
- The questions:
- Your logo
- Brand colors, textures, etc.
- Your website – is it a work in progress, etc.
- The process you use for your clients - You don’t magically create those gorgeous invitations, or just pick up the phone for that coaching call. You have SO MANY steps and investment of time into those clients. When they see that it doesn’t magically happen, they begin to further value your work and understand the investment they are making in you and you in them.
- A series of questions to learn about your ideal client – the goal of the session is to create gorgeous images that allow your ideal client to visualize your product or service in their life.
- What do you hope is the message you convey to potential clients? How you want them to feel?
- Gathering inspiration: Next we pull together some inspiration which allows me to see what you’re drawn to, and really lets me learn what your language is. Terms like ‘bright and airy’, or ‘really clean styling’ – can mean very different things to another person, so I like to make sure we are on the same page
- The style board: I take what I’ve learned during our interview, questionnaire, research, and inspiration to create a style board.
- Goals: Over the years I’ve found that it’s really important that as a team we define solid goals for the session. There are details that really impact the styling and design of images – for example, your photographer chose to style in a rectangle format, and oops, you LOVE your website, and ugh, it has squares.
- Prop shopping and creating: And then of course shopping for the perfect props and creating those images you’re dreaming of! Images that tell your story, and as I said, ‘highlight the very best of what you do … to appeal to the heart of your audience.’
Why do I need it?
I’ve sprinkled a few reasons above, but let’s face it; we all love to buy things that help us create the lifestyle we dream of. I believe that lifestyle brand photography is the window through which your clients get glimpses of what their life would be like with your brand in it. To try it on, daydream, imagine.
Prior to changing my niche to brand photography, I used to be a wedding photographer. I worked with lots of discerning brides, and lots of discerning vendors. While meeting with brides I’d hear things like, “Wedding invitations are soooo expensive, I sure hope they turn out beautiful." When I heard these things I thought to myself, "I sure hope they do!"
Do you know what the problem often is with wedding vendors? They have access to working with dozens, if not hundreds, of photographers in their careers – which sounds amazing, right? It can be. The problem is, each of those photographers has a different style, which means it creates inconsistencies in color, lighting and style on the website of the vendor, and makes brides ‘hope’ it’s what they are dreaming of. Styled images created for your brand allow you to control the quality, and consistency of your brand, shows your professionalism, and leaves your clients confident in their investment.
I'd also like to share a personal shopping experience I had before I was ever a brand photographer, which prompted me to change my niche years ago. I remember shopping online for a specific item I had seen in one of those magazines that show cute goodies for your home. I googled the item, visited a site, and quickly left. I visited another, and I bought the item immediately.
Here’s the thing: the item was exactly the same on both websites - but I spent 3 times the price without even hesitating.
After realizing what had happened, I was curious. I went back and revisited both websites and discovered that the product photography was worlds apart. The less expensive item on the first website had a very unprofessional image, and to be honest, left me wondering how legitimate the business was. The more expensive item had a professional, styled image that spoke to my lifestyle.
The moral of the story? The visuals we use to represent our brands have an enormous impact on our audience. It conveys a million little details and emotions within the space of a few seconds.